Zwart, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Take Time Attack 2WD Pole; Topple 18 Seconds Off Class Record and Turn Sixth Fastest Time Overall, Beats Cars with 200-Plus More Horsepower
Colorado Springs - June 25, 2010 - Jeff Zwart, from Woody Creek, Colorado, driving the specially- prepared Luminox Watch Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car, has put his car on the pole and set a new record in the 2WD Time Attack class for Sunday's 88th running of the Pikes Peak Hillclimb.
Zwart, a six-time Pikes Peak class winner, not only broke Rhys Millen's 2009 class record by 18 seconds, but went faster than the pole-sitters in other classes where turbo-charged race cars produce 200 hp more than Zwart's road-racing-based car. In fact, with all the high horsepower, exotic machinery which will "Climb to the Clouds" on Sunday, Zwart's Porsche qualified with the sixth fastest time overall with a time of just over five minutes (5:01.642). He also beat the pole time in the 4WD Time Attack class by 12 seconds.
"With almost 5,000 feet of elevation change from the start of the race to the finish, everyone expects their car to lose power as it goes up the mountain," said Zwart, who has claimed all six of his victories in street-based, turbo-charged Porsches.
"But this 911 GT3 Cup car seems to perform seamlessly from the bottom to the top of the Hill. I've have never been so comfortable driving Pikes Peak, and the speed I can carry into the turns - more than 115 miles-per-hour - is faster than I have ever gone here, and yet I can set up well for the dozens of hairpins which populate the course," said Zwart.
"Andrew Gregory, one of our engineers, was charged with the challenge of setting the engine mapping so it would deliver maximum horsepower at all elevations, and we got it right for qualifying," said Paul Ritchie, president of Porsche Motorsport North America, Inc.
"We have also lowered the ride height - not quite as low as the Cup car runs for a road race, but lower than a rally setting - as we have determined the course is smoother than originally anticipated," said Ritchie.
Ritchie also pointed out that Porsche has made a living in its rich racing history of using smaller- displacement vehicles to defeat bigger engines using suspension, balance, efficiency and chassis innovations, and he believes this Cup car success - so far - is another example of that.
Zwart also praised the Pirelli road racing rain tires, which he felt held their grip evenly on both the gravel and tarmac surfaces. The team made some adjustments to tire pressures on all four wheels prior to qualifying. Pirelli had developed a tire for Zwart based on the rain tire they use for the Rolex Grand-Am series.
For road racing fans who might have trouble visualizing the Hillclimb challenge, the cars get an equivalent of a couple of laps for the whole week before the main event on Sunday. Zwart took three qualifying runs today, but they were only five minutes apiece. That would be less than three laps at Le Mans. And during the week of practice, his "track time" is limited to short bursts on parts of the course.
With technical support from Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) and Pirelli Tires, Zwart will be contesting the 88th running of the hillclimb classic, the second oldest race in America (behind the Indy 500). Zwart said that running a 2WD, normally aspirated, purpose-built race car up the "Mountain" will be a new experience for him despite his nine starts at Pikes Peak.
Porsche Motorsport started with a 2007 Cup car, updated it to 2010 specifications, and installed a new 450 horsepower 3.8-liter engine currently in use in the Patron GT3 Challenge, American Le Mans Series Challenge Class, and the Porsche Supercup series. The engine management mapping was modified to perform well in high altitude as the race starts at 9,390 feet and finishes at the summit, 14,110 feet above sea level, and ride height was increased for the gravel sections of the course. The underbody was also modified to protect the car from gravel and stones similar to rally competition. Pirelli has provided road racing-style rain tires which worked very well both on paved and gravel surfaces during last week's test, and are derived from the company's Rolex Grand-Am GT series road racing rain tires.
Zwart has won his class at Pikes Peak - all in Porsche Turbo street cars - in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 2002, setting new class records three times. Most recently, he co-drove a Porsche Cayenne with Pikes Peak veteran Paul Dallenbach at the challenging TransSyberia Rally (Moscow to Mongolia) in 2007. He also has an SCCA PRO Rally Championship (1990) and a SCORE Baja 1000 class win (2004) to his credit.
-source: porsche motorsport